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Crowdstreet: An Honest Review of the Largest Online Real Estate Investing Marketplace

Founded in 2013 shortly after the passage of the JOBS Act allowed for this business model, Crowdstreet has emerged as a leading platform connecting accredited investors to a wide variety of real estate investments via its crowdfunding platform.

I have personally invested in two ground-up building projects through Crowdstreet. The first is a student housing project in Texas in late 2019 and the second being a workforce housing project in another part of Texas in early 2021. Both have projected annual returns (as measured by IRR) of greater than 20% annually.

This is a touch above the average realized return of 17.7% across the 115 deals that have gone full circle on the platform as of July, 2022, as should be expected for investments that are considered to be on the riskier end of the spectrum among deal types that they offer.

Having invested via both Crowdstreet and numerous other real estate investment companies over about a 5-year period, I’m in a good position to compare and contrast Crowdstreet and my experience with them with that of other options for your real estate dollars. I cannot say that I am unbiased; Crowdstreet is an advertiser and referral partner of Physician on FIRE. That said, I have invested $55,000 of my own money in two deals on the platform thus far.

 

crowdstreet-review

 

Crowdstreet Deal Flow

 

While being the biggest doesn’t automatically make one the best, I feel that Crowdstreet stands out for both the variety and quantity of deals offered.

Some real estate companies, like Origin Investments and DLP, solely offer funds for the accredited investor. Others, including Fundrise, Groundfloor, and Diversyfund, offer funds specifically for non-accredited investors. These funds are a great way to get instant diversification in passive real estate, but you have little control over what types of investments you make and where you make them.

Other platforms specialize in different niches. PeerStreet lets you invest in individual loans on fix-and-flip properties. Roofstock offers turnkey single family rental properties for sale. Acretrader focuses exclusively on farmland.

The most similar platforms to Crowdstreet are probably EquityMultiple, Alpha Investing and RealtyMogul. All three offer individual deals and an occasional real estate fund.

What sets Crowdstreet apart is both volume and breadth of deal types offered.

In terms of variety, they’ve offered investments in the following real estate asset classes: Office, Industrial, Hospitality, Senior Housing, Retail, Single Family, Flex/Office, Multi-Asset, Mixed-Use, Multifamily, Storage, Flex R&D, Cannabis, Charter School, Bank Note, Medical Office, Data Center, Student Housing, Manufactured Housing, Build-to-Rent, Parking Garage, Land, Co-living, and Veterinary.

That’s a run-on sentence that speaks to the fact that they’ve got something for every would-be real estate investor.

In terms of volume, well over 500 projects have been funded on the platform with over $2.4 Billion invested in projects with a total capitalization of more than $21 Billion. That volume is about 4x greater than what’s been invested with RealtyMogul and more than 10x greater than the same at EquityMultiple to date (as of fall, 2021).

Again, bigger isn’t always better, but it is evident that a large number of investors have trusted Crowdstreet with their investment dollars.

 

Where & How Crowdstreet Invests

 

As you might imagine, Crowdstreet does not accept every deal that comes their way. In fact, 95% are rejected. If they, or any platform, were to bring deals from inexperienced operators with less favorable terms, they wouldn’t be in business for long.

Their Capital Markets team has a three-step review process detailed here.

First, they evaluate the sponsor, performing background checks, a review of the sponsor’s prior track record, and they rate them as emerging, seasoned, tenured, or enterprise.

Second, they evaluate the particular deal to evaluate whether they feel the deal is viable, if the assumptions are supported by market data, and if the projections are realistic and in line with a typical Crowdstreet offering.

Finally, if everything is up to snuff, they review the deal documents and terms, negotiating with the sponsor to present an offering that will be attractive to both the investor and sponsor.

Funded deals, as of fall 2021, have taken place in over 250 cities across the United States.

 

crowdstreet-locations

 

Note that 3 of the top 4 cities with funded deals are located in Texas, a no-state-income-tax state, which is where I’ve made both of my investments to avoid any potential issues with out-of-state state income tax.

Just over 40% of the first 500 deals on the Crowdstreet platform were in multifamily properties, with office, hospitality, industrial, student housing, and senior housing being amont the next most popular asset types.

Value-add has represented about a third of the deal types, with development not far behind, followed by opportunistic, core-plus, and core deals.

crowdstreet-asset-classes

 

The Crowdstreet User Experience

 

It’s been a few years since I registered with Crowdstreet, but I recall the process being straightforward. You’ll see a button to create an account on most any page on the site. They now offer a weekly New Investor Orientation via a zoom call.

Once you’re registered, before you can invest, you must verify your accredited investor status. That is, you must show evidence that you’ve either earned $200,000 a year as an individual or $300,000 a year as a couple for the last two years or that you have a net worth (not including your primary residence) of $1 Million. They offer a Verification Letter Template that can be completed by your CPA, investment advisor, or attorney, or an independent third party that has reviewed your W-2, 1040, or brokerage statements. VerifyInvestor is an online option for that third party that I’ve used before.

As a verified accredited investor, you’ll have access to review the details of each investment on the platform, typically made available before the deal is open for investment. It can be important to have this access, as deals can fill with commitments quickly. It’s also common to have an interactive video call with the sponsor to learn more about a particular deal and get your questions answered before anyone has an opportunity to invest.

I obviously cannot share the details of investments on the marketplace, but anyone can see a preview of current offerings on the marketplace along with a few of the most pertinent details of each.

 

My Experience

Every quarter, I get an email inviting me to review the latest updates on the projects I’ve invested in. These are .pdf files with construction updates, pictures, and any changes that have been made or challenges that have been encountered.

Since I’ve chosen to invest in ground-up development projects, most of the return will be realized upon completion, and that is still one to two years away in these two projects, so I cannot comment on distributions, but you should be able to have them direct-deposited into your bank account.

The student housing project I’m invested in has delayed opening by one year, primarily due to COVID-related construction delays. Other than that, there have been no major surprises.

While I haven’t had a deal go full-circle with Crowdstreet, I have had four fully realized deals with other platforms, giving me returns of 2% to 52% as measured by IRR.

 

Crowdstreet Investment Returns

 

I can’t yet tell you my outcomes, but Crowdstreet publishes data on every deal that’s gone full circle on the platform. As of this publication, that’s 60+ deals.

Those deals have given investors an average internal rate of return (IRR, an annualized return) of 17.7% a year. With an average hold period of 2.8 years, investors have seen a 49% total return over that timeframe, on average.

It’s important to note that these numbers are the average result from over 100 investments. The range is quite large with the best result being an 116.7% IRR and the worst being -100%.

Yes, you can lose your entire investment in a particular deal, and that’s a fact that I wouldn’t dare sweep under the rug. There is a reason you must be an accredited investor; you really shouldn’t make investments like these with money you cannot afford to lose. Sure, the returns, on average, have been outstanding, but that reward comes with risk. Thus far, they’ve only had one total loss out of 63 deals for odds of 1.6%, but the risk of losing your investment is non-zero.

How do you protect against this risk? The two best ways are diversification (investing in funds or multiple deals) or investing in a safer deal type, such as Core or Core-Plus.

 

Outcomes by Deal Type

 

Core Deals

Considered the least risky class of investment on the platform, there have been 11 opportunities to invest in Core deals with Crowdstreet, but none have been fully realized as of 2021.

 

Core-Plus

With 11 fully realized deals, the range of outcomes for core-plus investments on the Crowdstreet platform is 7.5% to 26.4%. None has lost money.

With more than 90 Core-Plus deals funded since 2014, there will be many more data points added in the coming years.

 

Value-Add

56 of the 66 value-add deals have given investors a positive return, with the average return.

More than 200 additional value-add deals have been funded via Crowdstreet.

 

Opportunistic

Opportunistic investments target higher returns but carry more risk. Fewer than 15% of the opportunistic deals have been fully realized (28 of 200 to date), with 11 of those giving positive returns. The range is -100% to +116.7% with an average IRR of 11.8%.

 

For details on these along with the projected and actual returns of each realized deal, see the consistently updated Crowdstreet Marketplace Performance Page.

 

Case Studies

 

Crowdstreet performs case studies on realized deals comparing the projected to actual IRR, timeline, equity multiple, and hold period. The level of transparency is respectable.

 

A Deal that Performed as Expected

Hoyt20, a multifamily development project in Portland, OR, went more or less according to plan.

This project was presented with an anticipated IRR of 21.3% for a hold period of 2 years and an equity multiple of 1.47x, representing a 47% total return.

The actual returns were 55% over 2.2 years for an IRR of 21.7%. You can read the case study here.

 

A Deal That Severely Underperformed

4 out of 63 deals on the platform, or 6.3%, have given investors negative returns. Let’s look at the one that resulted in a total loss. I despise the overuse of the term “perfect storm,” but if one were to apply it to a real estate investment, this would be a good candidate.

It was a hotel transaction of a Radisson near Houston, TX that was to include a rebranding and renovation. It got off to an ill-fated start with a steep decline in the oil and gas markets at the time of the scheduled acquisition that led to fewer business travelers to the area.

That was followed by severe flooding from Tropical Storm Imelda that caused damage to the entire first floor. Finally, any hopes of rebounding from these setbacks were dashed by the COVID shutdowns and future uncertainty. Bankruptcy was declared in April of 2021. You can read the full case study here.

 

A Deal That Outperformed Projections

This value-add deal to an office / industrial park in Seattle, WA was presented to investors in the fall of 2016 with a tarteted IRR of 20.4% annually for 5 years with an equity multiple of 2.34x, meaning a 134% return.

The slated improvements were made in a much timelier fashion than anticipated, and the project was sold in less than half of the time originally predicted.

The investors realized a nearly identical total return of 128% as compared to the projected 134%, but with a hold period of just 2.3 years. This gave them an IRR of 42.8% annualized. Navigate to the full case study for complete details.

 

For another 60+ case studies where you can see what went well and what did not, please hop on over to Crowdstreet’s Marketplace Performance page. You do not have to register to view these.

 

crowdstreet-case-studies

 

Education

 

Most real estate investment platforms offer a fair amount of investor education. It makes sense from a business standpoint. They want educated investors, few surprises, and the more information they can provide on the website, the fewer questions their employees will need to answer personally.

A good place to start learning about Commercial Real Estate is with Crowdstreet’s Investor Quick Start Guide. The searchable Help Center is a good place to find specific info you’re looking for.

You’ll also find quick, helpful articles in the Commercial Real Estate 101 section with posts answering questions like “What are Equity Multiple and IRR?” or “What is a Promote?” There’s also a commercial real estate investing glossary.

You’ll also find more time-sensitive articles that go beyond real estate investing basics. For example, a rank list of The Best 25 Cities for Real Estate Investing in 2021.

 

For Commercial Real Estate education from additional platforms, see:

 

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Physicians and pharmacists, Register with Incrowd for the opportunity to earn easy money with quick "microsurveys" tailored to your specialty.

 

Additional Options for Real Estate Investing

 

There are many ways to invest in real estate.

You can purchase individual rental properties. This is generally an active form of investing where you either act as the landlord yourself or hire a property management team (and manage the managers). I have done this before, but have since transitioned to passive real estate investing.

You can invest in privately traded or publicly traded REITs. I’ve been invested in Vanguard’s REIT index fund for years. Note that during the Great Recession, the value of the fund plummeted 78%. These investments are not as uncorrelated with the stock market as you might like them to be if diversification is what you’re after.

If you can afford a six-figure minimum investment, Origin’s IncomePlus Fund will take a $100,000 investment to instantly diversify you among numerous equity and preferred equity deals. DLP’s Housing Fund is similar in several ways, and its $100,000 minimum (for PoF readers) will be increasing to $200,000 in November of 2021. They’ve also announced a development fund called the Building Communities Fund.

You’ll also find funds from Cadre, Alpha Investing, and others. Crowdstreet’s fund offerings include an Opportunistic Fund and a Subelt Multifamily General Partner Fund where investors receive 30% of the sponsor’s promote.

You can also invest in syndicated deals independent of any platform. These will not have gone through a screening process, so due diligence is of the utmost importance when doing so. Passive Income MD specializes in teaching others how to best go about vetting individual deals. At a minimum, whether investing via a crowdfunding platform or not, it’s wise to look into the track record of the sponsor and pore over the “pro forma” numbers representing projected returns to see if they appear to be reasonable for the type of investment and location.

This is not an exhaustive list of real estate investment options by any means. You can also invest in notes (mortgage loans), tax liens, short-term rentals, and even in the real estate investing platforms themselves, among other options.

 

Getting Started with Crowdstreet

 

While Crowdstreet as a platform couldn’t exist prior to the passing of the JOBS Act of 2012, which allowed crowdfunding to bring institutional investments to accredited individuals, they are offering investments with sponsors that have longer track records, some of which have been in business for decades.

For a closer look at their current and future investment offerings, create a free account and start learning more today.

Physician on FIRE may be compensated if you choose to create an account, but this site receives no additional compensation whether or not you invest your money with Crowdstreet or any of the other companies mentioned in this article. Also, the fact that I’ve invested with them does not mean that it’s a suitable investment for you. I may very well be in a different financial position than you.

Nevertheless, with a strong track record, admirable transparency, and a strong deal flow, if you are going to consider these types of real estate investments, Crowdstreet is a solid place to get started.

 

A generous and temporarily increased welcome bonus of 80,000 points & Peloton membership credits on the Chase Sapphire Preferred & premium card perks with the Chase Sapphire Reserve!


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21 thoughts on “Crowdstreet: An Honest Review of the Largest Online Real Estate Investing Marketplace”

  1. I’ve invested in 8 deals on CrowdStreet starting in 2018. One recent deal that I’m in went south, where a sponsor (Nightingale Properties) stole investors’ money and bought watches, real estate, and First Republic call options with it. What did CrowdStreet do? They sent a number of emails claiming that this was not their fault, that they properly did their due diligence. What kind of legal settlement did they offer? Can you guess? They offered to loan the bankrupt entity $5M (<10% of funds that investors lost), which they will fully get back. In other words, they will likely get off Scott-free.

    And this all precipitated their move to escrow accounts (um…maybe you guys should have thought of that sooner?). My favorite are the emails saying that they did their due diligence, despite the fact that there were articles in the Wall Street Journal citing the major omissions in the sponsor's performance record. In other words, they knew the sponsor was lying but they said no big deal, these guys are legit. And then they take no responsibility.

    AVOID CROWDSTREET!

    Reply
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  7. I’ve invested in 3 Crowdstreet opportunities. I agree with Gregg R, Crowdstreet does not properly vet sponsors. They also do not keep this page (https://www.physicianonfire.com/crowdstreetreturns) properly updated. How do I know? One of the deals lost all capital well over 6 months ago and is not listed. I imagine there are many many others and it is simply not good for their business to list the full set of deals that lost 100%. The second deal in which I invested is likely to lose 100% as well. The third has returned about 8% per year. If you decided to invest in Crowdstreet you need to do DEEP due diligence….do not trust what you read on the Crowdstreet website or deal overview.

    Reply
    • I don’t believe they’re hiding anything on the returns page. They do show 6 deals with complete losses. If the deal you know of is not on there, then they may have some catching up to do, but if they were selectively choosing which deals to include, they wouldn’t show those that lost 100%.

      The average IRR stands at 18.8%, which includes the 100% loss deals. There is certainly risk with leveraged real estate investments, but if you’re diversified, you’re likely to be rewarded for the risk and illiquidity.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

      Reply
  8. I’ve invested in 3 Crowdstreet opportunities. I agree with Gregg R, Crowdstreet does not properly vet sponsors. They also do not keep this page (https://www.physicianonfire.com/crowdstreetreturns) properly updated. How do I know? One of the deals lost all capital well over 6 months ago and is not listed. I imagine there are many many others and it is simply not good for their business to list the full set of deals that lost 100%. The second deal in which I invested is likely to lose 100% as well. The third has returned about 8% per year. If you decided to invest in Crowdstreet you need to do DEEP due diligence….do not trust what you read on the Crowdstreet website or deal overview.

    Reply
    • I don’t believe they’re hiding anything on the returns page. They do show 6 deals with complete losses. If the deal you know of is not on there, then they may have some catching up to do, but if they were selectively choosing which deals to include, they wouldn’t show those that lost 100%.

      The average IRR stands at 18.8%, which includes the 100% loss deals. There is certainly risk with leveraged real estate investments, but if you’re diversified, you’re likely to be rewarded for the risk and illiquidity.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

      Reply
  9. I appreciate the review. It is something my friends have dabbled in, and I have been toying with the idea of also jumping in. I think this might have pushed me over the edge to give it a try.

    Reply
    • I have invested over $1.2 million in 15 deals over the past 4 years. CS claims to do all this work to vet deals and only choose the best if the best. However what I have found is that there are many rouge sponsors that fund their deals and then don’t property report to investors and underperform. CScthen takes the stance that they are “only a marketplace” and have no control over the Sponsor. So basically their model is to collect fees for placing the deals on their platform and then leaving Soonsors and investors alone, with zero involvement. You will NOT see this arrangement mentioned anywhere on the CS site, but this IS how they operate. If you are willing to accept this arrangement, you’ll be happy investing in CS. If you feel that this arrangement is unfair and too risky, look for another platform to invest your RE allocation.

      Reply
      • Hi Gregg – Thanks a lot for sharing your experience with CS – definitely a valuable perspective. I am thinking about similar size investment as yours. Any chance I may email or speak with you directly? Look forward to hearing from you

        Reply
  10. Hello, I am about to take a leap into Crowdstreet funds this week!
    I am also hearing about crowdfunding platforms for farmlands– any suggestions for a reliable name comparable to Crowdstreet for this, and is it a good idea to invest in Farmland as well?

    Reply
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    • I don’t know that I’d call that an alternative perspective. Like I clearly state above, some investments won’t have a positive return (like this one), some will lose money, and I share the details of the 1 deal that resulted in a total loss out of their 63 fully realized deals.

      I try to make it abundantly clear that you shouldn’t invest money you can’t afford to lose, especially in individual deals. With a fund, there is some diversification benefit. If the cash hasn’t been called or deployed, obviously it’s not making money, but it’s not doing much worse than a savings account, either.

      Most of their deals have gone well, as evidenced by the average IRR of 17.3%. Of course, that average includes some that have overperformed, some that have underperformed, and a handful that have lost money. It is unfortunate that your investment has been among the underperformers.

      Best,
      -PoF

      Reply
  14. Thanks for the review of CrowdStreet. I, too, am invested in two projects. One I am especially excited about is the 1 Southside Park in Miami, a multiuse property being built from the ground up. There is a webinar on the offering page. The developer is one accomplished design/build company based in NYC. If you get a moment, you should check out their buildings in NYC. They fancy themselves as disruptors of the city scape. https://jdsdevelopment.com/portfolio

    Reply
    • Those are some beautiful buildings! I like the greenery incorporated into the 62-story Miami project.

      One of the criticisms I hear about crowdfunding platforms is the assumption that they only present deals that developers can’t get funding for any other way. Based on anecdotal evidence and the way funding works in other spaces (Kickstarter, Republic, etc…), some of these developers come to Crowdstreet not out of need, but as a way to gain exposure to a wider audience and to generate “buzz” for their projects. It’s a marketing tactic, and a good one.

      Most Kickstarter projects don’t need your $25 just as these developers may not need your $25k, but having them can help spread the word, go viral, etc… which is also good for future projects. This offering may be an excellent example of that.

      1 Southside Park

      Cheers!
      -PoF

      Reply

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